ON TARGET

Aquino’s presence in Zamboanga reassuring

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It’s reassuring to know that President Noy is in the thick of the fighting in Zamboanga City overseeing military operations against members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who have invaded parts of the city.

The President has been in the city since Friday last week, or five days after hundreds of Nur Misuari followers from Sulu and Basilan provinces who wanted to raise the Bangsamoro flag at city hall was foiled.

When our President is in the midst of a big crisis, such as the one in Zamboanga City, it means the situation is under control.

Even if the situation is critical, the message conveyed by the President’s presence in Zamboanga City is that the country is not about to fall into the hands of the Moro rebels.

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The President may have certain character flaws, but cowardice is not one of them.

He knows how to face death squarely.

Many years ago, he survived an ambush by rightist rebel soldiers during a failed coup against his mother, then President Cory.

Noynoy Aquino was gravely wounded in that ambush and some of his bodyguards were killed.

Yet, that traumatic experience has apparently not affected him.

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I’ve heard some people say that former President Erap would have dealt with the Zamboanga City crisis with an iron hand to teach the Moro rebels not to mess with the government.

Erap ordered the Armed Forces to invade Camp Abubakar, headquarters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Cotabato, after the Moro group showed recalcitrance toward his government.

But the situation in Zamboanga City is very much different from that in Camp Abubakar as the MILF rebels were not holding innocent civilians hostage.

Also, President Erap and P-Noy are distinct personalities and, therefore, have different approaches in facing the same situation.

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Why is Sulpicio Lines still allowed to operate after one of its ships, the MV Sulpicio Express Siete, collided on Aug. 16 with the MV St. Thomas Aquinas in the waters in Cebu that caused the deaths of 114 passengers and the disappearance of 23 others still listed as missing?

That was not the first time a ship of Sulpicio Lines was involved in a big maritime disaster.

In 1987, 4,300 people died after MV Doña Paz of Sulpicio Lines collided with MT Vector, a tanker.

The latest tragedy could have been avoided if government agencies, like Marina, had canceled Sulpicio’s franchise after the Doña Paz sinking, considered the worst peacetime maritime disaster.

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